Archive for April 6th, 2008

Incredible Road Trains!!!

Posted on April 6, 2008. Filed under: Auto |

A Road Train is a trucking concept used in remote areas of Australia, the United States, and Western Canada to move bulky loads efficiently. The term “road train” is most often used in Australia. In the U.S. and Canada the terms “triples”, “Turnpike doubles doubles” are commonly used for longer combination vehicles (LCVs).” and “Rocky Mountain The space in the name is usually omitted.


A road train consists of a relatively conventional prime mover, but instead of pulling one trailersemi-trailer, the road train pulls two or more of them.

Australia has the largest and heaviest road-legal vehicles in the world, with some configurations topping out at close to 200 tonnes. The majority are between 80 and 120 tonnes. Two-trailer road trains, or “doubles” are allowed in rural areas of all Australian states, except in two capital cities – Adelaide in South Australia, and Perth in Western Australia. Three trailer road trains (triples) operate in western New South Wales, western Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, with the last three states also allowing AB-Quads (3.5 trailers). Darwin, NT, is the only capital city in the world that will allow triples and quads to within 1 km of the central business district.

Road trains can be unwieldy, and driving and maneuvering them safely without unduly obstructing traffic is only possible because of the sparse traffic and extremely flat and straight terrain through the Australian outback. Strict regulations also apply regarding licensing and driving experience. The multiple dog-trailers are unhooked, the dollys removed and then connected individually to multiple trucks at “assembly” yards when the road train gets close to populated areas.

Road trains are used for transporting all manner of materials, with livestock, fuel, mineral ores and general freight the most common. Their cost-effective transport has played a significant part in the economic development of remote areas, with some communities totally reliant on a regular service.

World’s longest road trains

1999 the town of Merredin, Western Australia made it into the Guinness Book of Records, when Marleys Transport made a successful attempt on the record for the world’s longest road train. The record was created when 45 trailers, driven by Greg Marley, weighing 603 metric tons and measuring 610 metres were pulled by a Kenworth truck for 8 km.

In 2003, the record was surpassed near Mungindi, New South Wales, by a road train consisting of 87 trailers and a single prime mover (measuring 1235 metres in length).

The next record was 1,442 metres, set by a driver in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia in a Kenworth owned by Doug Gould.

In 2006, a truck with 112 semi-trailers (at a length of 1,474.3 metres) claimed a new record at Clifton, Queensland.

The ‘Father’ of the Road Train

The modern road train began with “Bertha,” a 1942 Diamond T980 tank retrieval tractor left in Australia by the U.S. Army after WWII. With a 200-horsepower Hercules engine it was the most powerful truck that ever set rubber on an Australian road.

The man who bought that vehicle at a military disposal sale and adapted it, Kurt Johannsen, is considered the father of the modern road train. Johannsen developed a self-tracking system for the trailers (using ex Bren-gun carriers that were also ex-military). Johannsen vastly improved and simplified a system used by the first road train, an inefficient English-built machine that arrived in Australia in 1934.

The tractors lead the way and the trailer wheels followed, rolling along in the tractor’s tracks. This was essential, as the “train” crashed through virgin bush and over never-driven desert, commonly called “bushbashing.” So clean was the design that the last of the trailer wheels were often only six inches off in a full turn.

Johannsen, then a 30-year-old Darwin mechanic, had created a system that would haul eight or nine times more than the flatbeds or single trailers that then covered the ground, and it was far stronger and lighter than the few pre-war English-built road trains. Johannsen’s trucks would haul as many as eight trailers, mostly 20-footers. It could take the rigs as long as half an hour to get up to 30 miles an hour.

Extracted from Wikipedia

External Links

Aussie Roadtrains
Road Train piks

Outback Australia

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